Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Memories - Prague, April 2012 (Part 1)

Easter is a religious event observed by Christians all over the world to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.   From what I read on Wikipedia, Easter is preceded with Lent - a 40-day period of fasting, prayer and penance - followed by 7 weeks of religious observance and festivities.  I confess I have very limited knowledge of Easter.  My ex-boss, would know better I think :).

My early knowledge of Easter was that of Easter eggs and bunnies which I read in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Thirty years later, living in the UK, I discovered that Easter was very much THAT.  Come Easter, supermarkets would be selling Easter chocolate eggs  in multiple sizes and colourful packaging.  In school, my children would be colouring eggs in class and of course, there's the community's seasonal favourite - easter egg-hunts. 

I was told by a friend that in other European countries, Easter is celebrated for its religious significance.  In Greece, for example, Easter is celebrated at a grander scale, surpassing Christmas. Therefore, when my family and I decided to spend our Easter hols in Europe in 2012, I was looking forward to experiencing a different kind of Easter (Sorry!!! Blast from the past posting... hehehe!)

I was in Prague during the 2012 Easter weekend.  Prague (Praha to the locals) is one of the most beautiful place that I have ever been  to and having been there first (and then only to Venice and Paris), I always say this to friends:

"Bila dah pegi Prague, Venice dan Paris pun nampak tak cantik",
 ...which more or less meant that the beauty of Venice and Paris paled in comparison to that of  Prague.

Prague will be forever etched in my mind not just for its captivating beauty, but for an unforgettable incident that happened when we were there.  As the Malay saying goes: tempat jatuh lagi dikenang, inikan pula tempat bermain keta rosak ...huhuhu..  Our reliable Zafira chose to break down in fascinating, foreign and faraway Prague.  I can't quite fathom how it could have happened.  My husband did a comprehensive service of our Zafira at a workshop before we embarked on our Europe tour.  The tyres were even changed.  I remembered my husband being rather pleased with himself, confidently declaring that the car was never in a better condition and was ready for a long haul.  Thinking back, this over-confidence could have been our downfall (think Titanic :)).

Aside from this divine rebuke, other possible reasons for the car breakdown:
1) our IPad, IPhone and satnav were continuously plugged to the car's charger, and this might have exhausted the car battery
2) the over-excited drivers had revved up the car to its maximum speed on the German Autobahn on our way to Prague.  Terus Cik Ira terkejut dan semput... huhuhuuu....

Minutes before arriving in Prague, the car lost power and finally stopped by the roadside.  It was pitched dark, the temperature was cold, and we were in a foreign land (Czech Republic).  Luckily, before we embarked on our journey, my husband had bought the comprehensive RAC European breakdown cover.  Alhamdulillah...

Reading through the documents, I was a bit apprehensive when I discovered that I had to contact the RAC regional office which was in Paris, France.  Luckily, My Vodafone line did not let me down in my hour of need.  After an hour, RAC succeeded in engaging a local towing company to tow the car to Prague. In order to do so, they wanted to know where we were stranded and asked for our coordinates.  I can 't quite recall how we obtained the coordinates as our satnav had also gone bonkers.  Probably from the IPad or Amer's IPhone.  After ding-donging between RAC and the towing company, a tow-truck soon came to 'rescue' us.

That was my first time on a tow-truck.  I've never been on one in Malaysia and there I was on board a tow-truck in Czech Republic!  How cool is that?? :)  But at that particular time, 'cool' was the furthest from my mind, just anxious and bewildered.   The tow-truck driver spoke only a smattering of English  and naturally I was worried.  What if he was a con-man? What if the repair of the car costs thousands?  What if we have to scrap the car?

Alhamdulillah, aside from a bumpy journey (due to the cobbled street of Prague Zone 1), everything went well.  30 minutes later, the driver dropped us at our apartment in Wenceslas Square... to be continued

The view from our apartment ...overlooking the art nouveau Grand Hotel Europa